Futudesign to transform Eliel Saarinen’s Helsinki Central Railway Station into landmark hotel

The extension is all in all an innovative contemporary reinterpretation of the existing, forming a symbiosis between old and new
– Futudesign

Finnish architecture and firm Futudesign has won an invited competition to transform part of Eliel Saarinen’s Helsinki Central Railway Station into a hotel.

Developer Exilion Management and hospitality operator Scandic Hotels are seeking ideas for how to breathe new life into the underutilised eastern administrative wing of the station, which was completed in 1914.

Futudesign’s winning proposal, called ‘Hermes’, takes advantage of the grand, high interiors originally designed by Saarinen to create distinctive hotel rooms, while joining the building’s two long wings with a new extension – bringing the total area to 4,000sq m (43,000sq ft).

Commercial functions will be placed at street level to allow a lively public space to develop alongside the station platform on the north side of the site, while an enclosed courtyard will provide a serene space for guests.

Arched ground floor windows will reference Saarinen’s original proposals for the main building “while communicating the public nature of the functions within”.

In a design statement, the architects said: “Though the design of the new part draws from the formal language of the existing station building, it resists mimicry. The courtyard-facing facade curves outwards, minimising the extension’s impact on the existing building while providing more space for hotel functions.

“Exterior materials and the recessed top floor are in subtle dialogue with what is already there, also taking their height from the surrounding buildings. The extension is all in all an innovative contemporary reinterpretation of the existing, forming a symbiosis between old and new.”

Saarinen was a Finnish architect who completed a number of landmark art nouveau buildings in the early 20th century. He was the father of Eero Saarinen.

Regeneration projects have been accelerating in Helsinki since its City Museum reopened to the public in 2016 following a major refurbishment and expansion of its new premises. New hospitality and leisure facilities include a waterfront public sauna that doubles as an outdoor auditorium for marine sports and another sauna and spa on the nearby island of Lonna, formerly owned by the military.

Global architecture firm Snøhetta have designed a forthcoming hotel on Hakaniemi waterfront and Danish designers COBE and Finnish firm Lundén Architecture are working alongside branding company N2 to visualise a new development scheme for the 40,000sq m (430,500sq ft) Töölönlahti Bay, with plans afoot to create a new waterside promenade, several pedestrian and bicycle routes, and a recreational and cultural citizens park.

Futudesign  Helsinki Central Railway Station  Eliel Saarinen  Finland  Helsinki  Exilion Management  Scandic Hotels  
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Finnish architecture and firm Futudesign has won an invited competition to transform part of Eliel Saarinen’s Helsinki Central Railway Station into a hotel. Developer Exilion Management and hospitality operator Scandic Hotels are seeking ideas for how to breathe new life into the underutilised eastern administrative wing of the station, which was completed in 1914. Futudesign’s winning proposal, called ‘Hermes’, takes advantage of the grand, high interiors originally designed by Saarinen
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Exilion Management and Scandic Hotels are seeking ideas for how to breathe new life into the underutilised eastern administrative wing of the station / Futudesign
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